It's funny timing that My Bloody Valentine would drop their much anticipated follow-up to 1991's landmark record, Loveless
, a few weeks before locals Panda Riot
are set to release their latest, Northern Automatic Music
. Funny because Panda Riot have not been ones to hide their fandom of My Blood Valentine's layered and lush shoegaze soundscapes in their own music. And now My Bloody Valentine, who have been such massive influencers over Panda Riot and many other current indie acts for more than two decades, are back in the mainstream instead simply being a cherished memory. Fortunately, this can only helps Panda Riot, and their new LP in particular, feel more than just a throwback to a style that can seems slow and plodding these days. Instead, Northern Automatic Music
feels wholly contemporary and modern by rethinking and reshaping the shoegaze sound that's very recently entered our mainstream consciousness.
And it's how Panda Riot rethink shoegaze on Northern Automatic Music
that makes it work. They take those nearly detuned, warbling guitars and oozing vocal melodies and transform them from steady rock songs into bright and shimmering pop tunes. The waterfall of "ohhhhs" at the start of "Amanda In The Clouds" are downright therapeutic. From there the song takes on an airy nature but its energy never wanes thanks to a tight snare-driven Philip Selway beat.
The rest of the album follows those same ideals - shoegaze disguised at pop music...or maybe vice vera. Either way, the results are some really stunning songs that match simplicity and beauty like the shimmering instrumentals, "Golden Age" and "Encrypted Wilderness."
And yet some of Northern Automatic Music
most impressive highs are when Panda Riot takes on a darker edge. "In The Forest (some kind of night fills your head)," is a bittersweet lullaby that floats on top of some damp piano and mass of clomping rhythms incorporating the vibe that made member Rebecca Scott's side project architecture a success. Then there's an undeniable MBV heaviness to a few cuts. "Good Night, Rich Kids" thats chorus is powered by a wall of guitars and a very Adore
-era Smashing Pumpkins hook, while the album's closer, "Camden Line," opens bleak and droney, the mood shifts on a hopeful, warping chord change.
We've seen Panda Riot do some good things
in the past, but nothing ever as complete and satisfying as this time around. Northern Automatic Music
can be whatever the listener is looking for - sweet, sour, dark, dreamy - while still successfully balancing familiar and new, and that's impressive.
Order Northern Automatic Music at Saintmarierecords.com.
Panda Riot - "Black Pyramids" Video
10:00 p.m. Friday, February 23.
, 1354 W. Wabansia